October 18, 2011

Work Etiquette: Requesting Time Off

Generally speaking, if you're serious about your internship, you should be on time to work every day (that you're scheduled to be there) and soak up knowledge/skills like a sponge until the agreed upon time to leave. You're only there for a limited time so you don't want to take away from that precious time with unnecessary days off. Of course, if you're not feeling well, it's perfectly acceptable to take the day off and many employers would most likely encourage you to keep your snotty nose and mysterious diseases as far away from the office as possible. In that case, as a courtesy to both yourself and your fellow employees, please do stay home.

Sometimes you might be perfectly healthy but something does come up and you need to take some time off (maybe a previously scheduled engagement like a doctor's appointment or wedding or something unexpected like a family emergency). If you need to take some time off, that's generally okay but there are some things you need to make sure you do before you suddenly take off because your girlfriend (who you never mentioned) just went into labor (Yeah... that happened).

  • If it is an appointment or some other previously scheduled commitment, you have plenty of time to give your manager a heads up. Let him/her know when and why you need to take some time off. It would also be a good idea to offer to make up for lost time by either staying late or coming in early some other time during that week. Make sure your manager has enough advanced notice so that he/she knows not to assign tasks for you when you're not there.
  • As your time off approaches, be sure to remind your manager, especially if it has been awhile since you first spoke to him/her about it. If you get assigned work with a strict deadline that you don't think you will have time to do before your time off, you should mention that as well.
  • If you need to take time off because of something unexpected, you should notify your manager immediately by phone (if possible) or by email. If you are at work when the emergency arises, try to let your manager know in person. But, the most important thing here is to let people KNOW that 1. You need to leave / can't come in. and 2. WHY.
  • In addition to your manager, you should also notify all other company employees who give you work or may otherwise count on your being there.
  • It is possible that, upon hearing that you would like to take some time off, your manager rejects your request for time off or allows it but makes you feel really guilty about bringing it up. In this case, you have a bit of a tough choice. If you have to take time off and therefore don't come to work anyway, you risk damaging your reputation with that company (be careful here, their sphere of influence may be greater than you think.). On the other hand, if you go to work, you could be missing a really important personal event. Weigh the potential consequences and accept responsibility for any repercussions. Also, please keep any speculations that your manager may not have been hugged as a child completely to yourself.

Katie Hazard | Digital Artist, User Experience Designer
khazard@internlikearockstar.com | @katie_hazard
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